Show Your Pride
BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE | You’re in New York to celebrate Pride –– or you have friends visiting for Pride –– and you want to see a show. Obviously, I support that. But if you haven’t planned ahead, getting tickets can be a challenge, particularly for the most popular shows.
We couldn’t find tickets for “Matilda” available at any price over Pride Weekend, even going through ticket brokers. On the other hand, this is the first year since “The Book of Mormon” opened that it had availability during the same period –– though you’ll pay about $750 for a pair in the orchestra. “Wicked” is also available, though the best seats there will run you just over $400 a pair. Still, considering that partial view tickets will set you back $300, the premium route might be the way to go. You’ll find spotty tickets for “Once,” but mostly at the premium prices as well.
So, what can you get tickets to? Here are the shows I’m currently sending my friends to see. Availability is based on performances from June 26 through July 2, and bear in mind the playing field can change daily.
HERE LIES LOVE
425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl.
David Byrne and Fatboy Slim have written an incredible musical about the rise and fall of Imelda Marcos. Yes, it’s a little bit “Evita-Goes-to-the-Philipines,” but the vibrant score, mosh pit staging –– you stand for the full 90 minutes –– and electric performances by a consistently superlative cast make this a completely thrilling experience.
Availability: Spotty. It’s general admission ($95.50 at publictheater.org), with the exception of a handful of seats above the action that have partial view. You’ll have to check bags, even purses, and wear comfortable shoes.
Theater you should see — or try to see — during this year’s Pride Month
NATASHA, PIERRE AND
THE GREAT COMET OF 1812
W. 13th St. at Washington St.
This show is a chunk of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” turned into a pop opera by the brilliant composer Dave Malloy. Unfolding around you as you have dinner in a Meatpacking District tent/ supper club dubbed Kazino, the clarity of storytelling and extraordinary singing swirl you into the story and the world of the early 19th century. And the dinner’s not bad, either.
Availability: Excellent. The $125 ($175 premium) ticket includes a meal and a shot of vodka. Ovationtix.com. Full bar available.
RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S
1681 Broadway at 53rd St.
If you’ve got kids or you’re feeling a little kid-like yourself, this is the one to see. Douglas Carter Beane has updated the book, but the music is as lush and romantic as you may remember — if you’re one of those people who grew up cherishing Leslie Ann Warren in the TV version. The knockout cast includes Victoria Clark, Laura Osnes, Santino Fontana, Harriet Harris, and Ann Harada. This is a big, sparkly Broadway musical that’s completely irresistible.
Availability: Limited. Regular ticket prices are $45-$137, and there are online discounts available through Broadwayoffers.com. It’s also regularly been up at the TKTS booth.
149 W. 45th St.
Nathan Lane gives one of his most beautifully nuanced performances to date as Chauncey Miles in the title role. The Nance is a flamboyantly gay stock character popular in vaudeville, but Chauncey is gay offstage as well –– and that brings complications in New York in 1937. Douglas Carter Beane’s script is at times wildly comic and heartbreaking, and Lane’s exceptional work is complemented by a strong cast, especially Jonny Orsini as Chauncey’s love interest.
Availability: Spotty. Regular ticket prices are $37-$132, and there are online discounts available through Broadwayoffers.com and regularly, as well, at the TKTS booth.
Al Hirschfeld Theatre
302 W. 45th St.
This bold and brassy Tony-winning best musical has a fantastic score by Cyndi Lauper, a clever, if slightly predictable, book by Harvey Fierstein, and the best costumes on Broadway right now from Gregg Barnes. The story of a country shoe factory saved by making high heels for drag queens may seem farfetched, but it’s a lovely, human story that will leave you walking on air (heels or not). Sensational performances by Tony-winner Billy Porter and Stark Sands in the leading roles as well as a fantastic ensemble of drag queens make this the completely irresistible fun.
Availability: Very limited. Regular ticket prices are $57-137. However, we found only a few extreme side orchestra seats at the higher price. What center orchestra seats that are available are $299 through telecharge.com and even higher through brokers. We’ve occasionally found some performances at TKTS, so you never know. Your best bet is to order now for next year –– this will still be playing.
VANYA AND SONIA
AND MASHA AND SPIKE
John Golden Theatre
252 W. 45th St.
Christopher Durang’s new comedy took the Drama Desk and Tony Awards for best play. This Chekhov-infused contemporary family comedy is as literate as it is hilarious. David Hyde Pierce plays Vanya, who lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with his sister, Sonia, played by Kristine Nielsen. When movie star Masha arrives with boy-toy Spike in tow, hilarity and family breakdown ensue. If you don’t know Chekhov when you walk into this play, you’ll know some of his key themes when you leave. Sigourney Weaver is very good as Masha, and Billy Magnussen as Spike is a treat.
Availability: Limited. Regular ticket prices are $60-$130. However, we found only a few extreme side orchestra seats at the higher price. The few center orchestra seats available are $199 through telecharge.com. No discounted tickets were available during this weekend, though the show has been up from time to time at TKTS.
THE ASSEMBLED PARTIES
Samuel J. Friedman Theater
261 W. 47th St.
This is my favorite new play of the season: a sensitive look at family dynamics, what we know, what we don’t, and how even in the most intimate of groupings there are unknowable divisions — chasms, really — between people. Richard Greenberg’s incisive script, Lynne Meadow’s sensitive direction, and stellar performances by Jessica Hecht, Jeremy Shamos, and Judith Light (Tony and Drama Desk winner) are not to be missed.
Availability: Fair. Regular ticket prices are $67-$120. However, we found discounted extreme side orchestra seats, which are not bad given the intimacy of the piece and the theater. We also found full-price orchestra seats available at all performances.
Vivian Beaumont Theater
150 W. 56th St.
Holland Taylor is divine in this one-woman show about the late Texas Governor Ann Richards. Taylor, who also wrote the piece, captures the spirit and the substance of this political powerhouse.
Availability: Limited. Regular ticket prices are $75-$125. Limited numbers of full-price tickets were available at all performances. However, we also found discounted seats at every performance at Broadwayoffers.com. The show has been up regularly at the TKTS booth, as well.
Music Box Theatre
239 W. 45th St.
Diane Paulus’ reimagining of this classic musical integrates circus, magic, and homage to Bob Fosse in a totally over-the-top extravaganza. It easily won the Best Revival Tony.
At the same time, Paulus has found the humanity under the glitz and delivers what is ultimately a quietly moving meditation on growing up. Along the way, incredible performances by Andrea Martin, Patina Miller (Tony for Best Actress in a Musical), and Matthew James Thomas make this beloved show contemporary and packed to the rafters with razzle-dazzle. This one is worth breaking the bank for.
Availability: Limited. Regular ticket prices are $59-$142. However, we found only extreme side orchestra seats at the higher price. There are premium seats at all performances, but be prepared to shell out between $202 and $277.50 apiece for these seats. As with “Kinky Boots,” though, we’ve found the odd performance up at the TKTS Booth.
THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL
Stephen Sondheim Theatre
12 W. 43rd St.
Cicely Tyson (Tony for Best Actress in a Play) leads an all-star cast that includes Vanessa Williams, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Condola Rashad in a rich and poetic staging of the now-classic Horton Foote play about ties to family and home in a changing and often unsettling world. Michael Wilson’s sensitive direction finds the lyricism and love that bind these characters — even when it’s hard for them to be a family.
Availability: Limited. Regular ticket prices are $37-$142. However, we found scattered orchestra seats at most performances. There are also premium seats, which run $227-$252 apiece, at all performances. The show has also been on the boards at the TKTS booth for some performances, including weekends in recent weeks.
Gaming the Boards
If you simply must see a particular show, you can probably get tickets one way or another. Ticket brokers will charge a hefty fee –– and we’ve found that sometimes their seats were no better than premium seats or side orchestra we located on our own. Brokers, though, are the best bet on very short notice. For almost every show we checked out for Pride Weekend, the mezzanine seats sold out first, and what you’ll typically find still available are orchestra seats.
When visiting the box office or looking online (telecharge.com for most Broadway shows), be aware that prices can change by performance and virtually all shows designate large portions of the center orchestra and front mezzanine as premium seats, which can add significantly to the price.
Some shows have lotteries that will get you in the door for under $50, but you have to fit into their schedule — and be there when the lottery is called. Standing room is sometimes available for shows that are sold out. For lotteries or standing room, head to the theater and find out their policies. You can also search online by the name of the show coupled with the word “lottery.”
Of course, the old, reliable TKTS Booth on 47th and Broadway sells discounted tickets for day-of performances, and while that’s always hit-or-miss, even some hot new shows like “Pippin” have had 30 percent discounts for side orchestra in recent weeks. Other shows are discounted as much as 50 percent, and if you’re going to see a play rather than a musical, they have a “Play only” window that will speed your wait.
TKTS also has a very handy app you can download to see what’s up before you head out to get in line. Or you can visit sites like Theatermania.com and click on “check for discounts.” You’ll pay a convenience fee, which can be $7.50 or more a ticket, but that’s often worth it versus waiting in line.
And you can always go to the box office right before show time. I’ve often had great luck showing up less than an hour before curtain and scoring a single ticket — sometimes even an unused house seat. You’ll pay full price, but if you’re willing to take singles –– even if you’re with other people –– you can increase your chances of getting good seats.
Off-Broadway, too, has some gems, and if you have never had the experience of Shakespeare in the Park, that’s worth a day of lounging in Central Park to get free tickets and a quintessential New York experience. Currently on is “The Comedy of Errors,” a 90-minute romp starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson of “Modern Family.” Go to PublicTheater.org for full information on getting the free seats.
A list like this can never be comprehensive. I haven’t mentioned long runs like “Newsies,” “Mamma Mia,” or “Phantom,” many of which can be hard to get but are often up at TKTS on weeknights.
So, whether or not you are able to score your must-have tickets this Pride Season, you ought to be able to have a theater experience in New York this summer that will prove memorable.